As Italian polls close today, Reuters reports that protest votes cloud the outcome and could "hamper" Italy's economic reforms and even the euro zone's stability. "Opinion polls give the center-left coalition led by former Industry Minister Pier Luigi Bersani a narrow lead," Reuters writes, but the "5-Star party" is gaining while leading a protest against EU-mandated austerity programs and political scandals. Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party could find itself in third place. The news agency's James Mackenzie and Gavin Jones warn that the "stakes are high" for the euro zone. "Italy is the third largest economy in the 17-member bloc and the prospect of political stalemate could reawaken the threat of dangerous market instability."
Polls Close in Italy Today; Results Cannot Be Predicted
UPDATED 4:59 AM EST, February 25, 2013